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The book everyone in the Pass is encouraged to read

Award-winning author Jesmyn Ward is the editor of ‘The Fire This Time,’ a collection of essays, memoirs and poems that examine race in America. The book was inspired by James Baldwin’s ‘The Fire Next Time,’ published in 1963.
Award-winning author Jesmyn Ward is the editor of ‘The Fire This Time,’ a collection of essays, memoirs and poems that examine race in America. The book was inspired by James Baldwin’s ‘The Fire Next Time,’ published in 1963.

An anthology edited by DeLisle native and award-winning author Jesmyn Ward has been chosen the book everyone in Pass Christian needs to read.

Members of Pass Christian’s One Book One Pass community-reading program announced this week they selected “The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks about Race” as the One Book One Pass book for 2017.

Erik Larson’s “Dead Wake” was the 2016 selection. Larson spoke Wednesday at the Randolph Community Center in Pass Christian. Through the year, the community was encouraged to read the book, and special programs and events centered around and designed for discussion on the book were held at the Pass Christian Library and other locations in town.

“The purpose of One Book One Pass is to promote the value of reading by recommending a compelling book that links the community in a common conversation,” says a library press release. “One Book One Pass hopes to encourage dialogue about a particular book and also foster lifelong learning and the development of a strong community identity. Each year, a new book will be selected.”

“The Fire This Time” is a collection of essays, memoirs and poems that examine race in America. Inspired by James Baldwin’s “The Fire Next Time,” which, according to the book’s introduction, gave comfort to Ward after the death of Trayvon Martin in 2012, Ward and her editor sought writers and thinkers of her generation who could give voice to frustrations and fears many black Americans have been experiencing in recent years.

The book is divided into three sections: Legacy, a look at the impact of race in America’s past; Reckoning, a wrestling with the consequences of the past as they play in the current environment; and Jubilee, the attempt to envision a better future.

Fellow Mississippian and Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Natasha Trethewey contributes the poem “Theories of Time and Space.”

Other contributors include American Book Award winner Emily Raboteau; Isabel Wilkerson, the first black woman to win a Pulitzer Prize in journalism; Ernest J. Gaines Award winner Mitchell S. Jackson and National Book Critics Circle Award winner Edwidge Danticat. Ward herself has written the essay “Cracking the Code” for the Reckoning section.

“Pass Christian is so fortunate to have one of our nation’s top young authors living in our community,” One Book One Pass committee chair Wendy Allard said. “The essays in ‘The Fire This Time’ are particularly relevant and timely for discussion, and are appropriate and interesting for a wide range of ages and backgrounds.”

Ward is the 2011 National Book Award winner for her novel “Salvage the Bones.” She is also the author of “Where the Line Bleeds” and National Books Critics Circle Award finalist “Men We Reaped.” She is an associate professor of creative writing at Tulane University in New Orleans.

“Jesmyn Ward, whether through her novels or essays, eloquently conveys the urgency and effects of the issues we encounter in our society,” said Scott Naugle, One Book One Pass committee member and co-owner of Pass Books and Cat Island Coffee House. “She’s young, fresh, energetic, relevant, and a beautiful writer.”

For more information, contact Wendy Allard at the Pass Christian Public Library, 228-452-4596 or w.allard@harrison.lib.ms.us.

Tammy Smith: 228-896-2130, @Simmiefran1

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